If you’re looking for an easy yet exciting day-trip from the city to the trees, the 158 km trip from Nanaimo to Elk Falls Provincial Park in Campbell River is certain to satiate your desire for adventure without spending too much time on the road. Elk Falls is home to a roaring waterfall, two salmon-packed rivers and intertwining trail systems. This 1100+ hectare park is an enchanting experience year-round.
Travel from the Hub City to the “Salmon Capital of the World”
From Nanaimo, head North on Hwy BC 19 past Lantzville. From there, it’s choose your own adventure as you approach signs for Parksville – take the coastal route on Hwy BC 19-A through Qualicum Beach, Royston, and into Courtney, or stick to the inland highway for speed limits of up to 120 kms per hour. Regardless of what route you take, keep an eye out for signs for Hwy 28 which will bring you to the start of your adventure at Elk Falls.
If you’re prepping for a proper adventure, turn off Hw 28 onto Canal Access Road toward the campground. From here, it’s just a 3 km walk to the day-use area where you can set up your base camp.
If you have less time, continue along Hwy 28 to Elk Falls Park Road and head directly to the parking lot for the suspension bridge.
Endless Adventure at Elk Falls
For a fun family-friendly hike, enjoy a 15-20 minute walk from the parking lot to the new suspension bridge. Built in 2015, the bridge hangs a harrowing 60 metres from the Campbell River’s canyon floor, providing an awe-inducing view of Elk Falls.
Directly across from the bridge and a short ways down is a beautiful view point. From here you can often see a rainbow created by the sunshine hitting the water’s mist. Elk Falls is a “plunge” waterfall, meaning the water plunges directly downward from the cliff, losing contact entirely with the rock before splashing into the river below.
The View from the Top
Exploring the trails further, you can find yourself on the top of the falls. This area is an “at your own risk” part of the park, so proceed with caution. Being mindful of safety, you can take in some amazing views of the river feeding the falls. There are rocks you to sit or lay on, a perfect spot to set up a picnic and enjoy the sunshine (weather dependent, of course).
This day trip from Nanaimo to Elk Falls Provincial Park is great for families, experienced hiker, or amateur adventurers. With the shaded trails, incredible views and soothing sounds of the waterfall, this trip is one for the memory books.